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NT4 automatic network configuration

Posted on 1998-11-25
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Anyone know a method of automatically configuring network card settings in NT4 based on preinputted data from dos(like an ascii file or such). I have three possible network cards: NE2000, 3COM Etherlink III and 3COM Fast Etherlink XL.
Background: I am using DOS batch routines to select h/ware platforms for NT client downloads using Ghost.
I need to automatically set computer names and correct selection of network card. A registry key change could solve this maybe? Any ideas from anyone?
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Question by:jigy
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by:Laphroaig
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You can use *.inf files to remotely setup client stations from a server using a push installation configuration. I wil have to look up the correct method in the NT Resource Kit book, but it can be done with out using Dos batch files which is a bit quirky.
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by:jigy
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Would this be based on static IP addresses? At the moment, all machines are using DHCP allocated dynamic ones.
Unfortunately, what I'm requiring is an automatic configuration of a 'freshly' installed image of another NT box. There lies the problem. I have one image with a specific network card configuration and computer name and I have to replicate this to multiple machines - of which many have the other two mentioned network cards. I'm afraid push technology won't work if the network card is wrong.
My aim is to bring down hard disk images from a UNIX box onto each client PC with no user intervention except at the NFS bootdisk point.
Thus, I need a method of setting the network parameters at the start of the whole exercise(at the bootdisk point) before the image reboots into NT.
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by:bchew
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You can do what you describe using INFGEN from the resource kit.  It takes a text file as input and creates a separate .inf file for each client machine based on that machines name.  You then start the hands free setup with the name of the inf file (<machinename>.inf).
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by:cwalter
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Download the Zero Administration Kit (ZAK) from Microsoft. It gives in depth instructions on automating NT installs.

We have used ZAK to create a Lotus Domino Database that will create the boot disk then all you need to do is stick the disk in the drive of the server and then in about 1.5 hours you have the server you just requested be built.
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by:jigy
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Thanks for your proposal CWalter but I cannot install the ZAK on the server as it is administered interstate. From the MS website, it doesn't look like it achieves the objectives I'm after anyway.
Bchew - infgen is a Win95 tool isn't it? I have the NT4 resource kit here but I cannot find any such tool. The downloaded version doesn't work on my NT workstation box. Can you furnish me on more details on how to preset the computer name using INFGEN on NT4?

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by:jigy
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Doesn't suit my setup but thanks for the input anyways :)
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by:Koen
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Jigy,
Just to shed some other light on this problem... Have you considered imaging the NT compressed files and running a setup on each machine?  Or run a networked unattended installation...
It is my experience that ghosting is fine as long as HW is identical (which in your case isnt)
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by:jigy
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Ghinstek - no can do. We can't use that method for good reason. Our products are a helluva lot more complicated to install than MS products and we need ghost images for the kind of image refreshing that we do.
We've used two archiving programs so far - arj and ghost and they've both been very acceptable. Ghost is not a problem...arj was sometimes.....we've got three different CPU types and multiple hardware configurations and NT still runs perfectly. We've been using ghost for nearly 1 1/2 yrs now and it seems to be a good investment. Only one thing to make sure when using ghost tho....always do a full unconditional format and it'll work fine.
I still need a way of inserting the computer name automatically into NT after the image transfer. Any ideas anyone? Can infgen do this and how?


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by:Koen
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jigy,
Ok I can understand that, but I was not talking about your specific applications, just about NT...
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by:jigy
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ghinstek,
sorry but I forgot to clarify something beforehand - I did investigate that option a while ago with NT3.51 but the applications that we install take up close to 700-800 MB in size and most if not all have no auto-install/remote install capability. Many of them also overwrite and add DLL's in the \WINNT directory and subdirectories. This rules out doing a fresh install of NT and then installing the apps. So, I have to ghost the entire image(NT+applications+student files etc) and bring them down onto each PC. If I ghost/compress the NT setup files and re-install it on each PC 'after' I bring down the image, some of the applications will fail to work properly because settings are changed. Like I said, the installation of these apps are a maze and I don't really want to find out each and every one of the files and settings that it changes.
So, in my situation, the only viable way I have found is to ghost the image and then bring them down onto each PC and then manually change the NIC settings afterwards. It works fine but it's just a pain when it has to be done on 40+ machines every 3/4 weeks. Thanks for the proposal anyway :). If you can help anymore, please let me know.

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by:Koen
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Ok, let's rule out the unattended install...
Think about the following strategy (if you think it could work, we can elaborate). You include all file needed for the three NIC's (*.inf files, .dll and others) in your image. You add a registry setting to run application once and autolog the pc as local admin. then from some parameter provide upfront pc runs this bat/cmd file installing the correct inf for the network card (and also djust registry to reflect PC name). batch file boots the PC and the job is done...
YOu think this would work?if not what are the problems?
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by:Koen
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If you look at the time on my messages, you'll realise I'm on the other side of the world... If you want quick replies, you'd have to post here before 8:00 AM PST...
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by:jigy
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Ghinstek,
That strategy is exactly what I would have in mind. I can include all the relevant NIC files needed for an install on the image and also auto-adjust the registry setting to reflect the name change. I can also set the PC to auto-admin login and then after a successful rebooting back to non-auto login. Now the bits in between....:D
What I'm not too clear about is installing from an inf file. I think this would work but if you can detail the steps needed to get the correct NIC installed after NT boots up I would appreciate that. Cheers


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by:Koen
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Well this is of course the main problem!
I was thinking of a method of doing some prework (a simple dos batch file would do) to enter the target machine name and installed nic.  Of course this goes from the idea that you actually know what is in the machine! If you don't (this is one of the great uses of configuration management), then we have a serious problem...
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by:jigy
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Well, that is not too much of a problem because I have already made a menu system in an NFS bootup disk that prompts the user to select a NIC(based on labels on the machine casing). I can easily set a computer name in a text file somewhere on the drive and copy it to the NFS share and then back again to the PC. This, coupled with the user-selected NIC can be used as inputs to configure the machine?
Also, because the machines are always moving from one room to another, we need to store the machine name on the PC and use a bootdisk because it's too hard to keep track of the moving.
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by:Koen
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Ok, I'm beginning to see the major problem here ! after you installed the ghost software this machine probably isn't bootable (because of it's non-identical name or conflict with the SID). Am I correct? If so things are not getting any easier!!
Anyway it's gonna have to wait til tomorrow since I'm out of here.

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by:jigy
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Well, the ghost software runs off the server(NFS share). The machine is bootable but it isn't configured properly to run NT on the network because of the settings(identical computer name with the base image PC and wrong network card). What happens at the moment(from bootup to end configuration) is:

1)The machine boots up with the NFS bootup disk(DOS)
2)User selects network card and number of hard disks on a menu system
3)A network drive is mapped and ghost runs off the server
4)User chooses which image to bring down from server to client PC
5)A full unconditional format of the two hard drives on client PC is made automatically
6)Ghost automatically uncompresses the two hard disk images based on the number of hard disks selected previously(some machines have one HD with 2 partitions, some have 2 HD's)
7)Computer automatically (-RB switch in ghost) reboots and logs into NT as administrator
8)User manually changes the network card and computer name

It's step 8 that I want to automate so that the user can just bootup with a floppy, choose the settings required and then no other user intervention or input is required.
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by:Koen
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Ok, If you can boot the machine it helps a lot..
In the pre-process you should include a parameter saved to a file on the c:\drive (after format of course) which tells the system the NIC.
Something like this in the batch file :
...
@echo 1.  Lan Adapter 3c5x9 Family
@echo 2.  Lan Adapter 3c59x Family
@echo
choice /c:12 "1 or 2 "

If errorlevel 2 goto lan2
if errorlevel 1 goto lan1

:lan1
@echo set NIC=3C5X9 >nic.bat
goto end_lan

:lan2
@echo set NIC=3C59X>nic.bat

:end_lan
md c:\batch
copy nic.bat c:\batch
..
This way your system knows after installing which NIC is in the machine, by calling the batch file and then reading the set variable.

On the ghost image you should change/add this registry key
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\RunOnce]
"Runthis"="c:\\batch\\custom.bat"
of course the custom.bat file also has to be in the image.
now the custom.bat file should contain this:

call c:\batch\nic.bat                       rem reading the selected NIC
if not %NIC%=="3C5X9" goto lan2
c:\winnt\system32\rundll32 setupapi.dll,installhinfsection installoption 0 c:\drvlib.nic\3c5x9\oemsetup.if  (this is one line with the previous one)

:lan2
if not %NIC%=="3C59X" goto no_lan
c:\winnt\system32\rundll32 setupapi.dll,installhinfsection installoption 0 c:\drvlib.nic\3c59x\oemsetup.if  (this is one line with the previous one)

:no_lan
@echo No NIC was selected for this machine
rem changing name and domain
c:\winnt\system32\regedit.exe /s c:\batch\domain.reg
c:\batch\baptize.exe pc_name
del c:\batch\baptize.exe
del c:\batch\domain.reg
reboot the machine.

The domain.reg file should contain the following :
REGEDIT4

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon]
"DefaultDomainName"="domain"
"AutoAdminLogon"="0"
You could include the user also (this way when reboot the user name will be there)
"DefaultUsername"="user"

The baptize utility is a little freeware utility to rename PC's without rebooting them. I downloaded it from here : http://www.jsiinc.com/TIP0200/rh0285.htm

Maybe you could see how far you get with this...Gd Luck
Koen
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by:jigy
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Cheers....I'll try this at work tomorrow and let you know how it went.

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by:jigy
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Ghinstek,
Thanks. I did follow your instructions but the rundll32 had problems installing the network cards. I tried to coax and cajole it to work but had no luck. Always came up with installation error messages. When I went back to the MS knowledge base, I found a nifty tool called scriptit that does a lot of the automatic installations quite well. So far I've got it to work like a charm on the images. I've used a large portion of your instructions to get everything going so thanks for the pointers :).

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by:Koen
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Does this means I can get the points?


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by:jigy
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Yup. I'm kinda new to the experts-exchange so I think the way to allocate the points to you is by you answering my question no? If that's the case, I'll give them to ya when I get your reply. Cheers for your help :)

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Koen earned 150 total points
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As my reply is in the comments, I'm not going to repeat.

Tx for the points and good luck with the installations !
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